Arcadia, CA

Offering Free Food and Strengthening Community in the San Gabriel Valley

Don Simkovich

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Hills Church, Arcadia along with the Monrovia Vineyard are key food distribution points--photo by Don Simkovich

Fresh produce, fruit, canned goods, and dry goods are available Saturday, May 14 for free at Hills Church, 805 N. 1st Avenue, Arcadia, south of Foothill Boulevard, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Free food distribution takes place on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month under the guidance of Steve Casey and his wife Eileen who get together with other volunteers on Friday afternoons to prepare the organic produce and other items.

“We give out fresh food that’s good quality. During our preparation time, we’ll go through and toss out bad grapes or other things we see.”

They receive the food from Montebello-based House of Compassion, pack it into a 10-foot U-Haul trailer with a high ceiling, and transport it to Hills Church. The effort is still new, but during their distribution morning in late April they had 75 people who came to pick up groceries. People mark down how many are in their families and Steve was impressed with how many ended up receiving food.

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Volunteers gather Friday afternoons to prepare--photo by Don Simkovich

“Those who picked up fed a total of 280 people from around the area.”

Steve, a member of Hills Church, sees the need and demand growing as donations flow in. Los Angeles County figures estimate that up to 2 million people live with "food insecurity issues on an on-going basis."

Serving with Passion

It’s a community effort he says that sprung from an interest he and Eileen had 13 years ago when they initially helped in another food distribution program. In recent months, they began collecting and storing at the Monrovia Vineyard but lacked space.

Through congregational connections, Pastor Walter Hoefflin of Hills Church heard about the need and turned his office into a storeroom. A church member donated shelving while other donations have included a large refrigerator and two freezers. The storage room at Hills Church also has backpacks, blankets, and air mattresses for the homeless and others in need.

Steve mentioned how they've received infant formula donations and through the request of an African church member, they sent 160 units of formula to the Congo.

The food distribution event is becoming a connecting point for many to meet and enjoy each other’s company.

“It’s like a farmer’s market,” says Steve.

Those who receive often end up volunteering to help while more than food is given out.

Steve and Eileen are also local leaders of the Healing Room prayer ministry and each person who takes food is asked if they’d like prayer.

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Prayer and enjoying company is part of the morning--photo by Don Simkovich

The organized effort he and Eileen launched is House of Food and Prayer and has its own Facebook page.

Steve says members of other churches or anyone who’s interested in starting a food distribution program in their area can contact him and Eileen via email: steveileen06@gmail.com.

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I interview entrepreneurs, and dig into the news around Southern California, giving a voice to business owners, artists and more. I also co-write the thriller novel series Tom Stone Detective Stories.

Pasadena, CA
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